Review – Boompjes Genever
Although often referred to as ‘Holland Gin’, Genever is actually permitted (by EU bureaucrats at least) to be produced in Belgium, the Netherlands, two French provinces, and two German federal states. The Onder de Boompjes distillery calls the area of Schiedam in the Netherlands home; an area with a rich pedigree of Genever production. They produce two Genevers, one each of the two major categories of ‘young’ and ‘old’. A blend of moutwijn (malt wine), esprit, grain alcohol and water, Boompjes is one a small number of distilleries that makes its own moutwijn. They use a mash bill of 1/3 rye and 2/3 malt fermented to produce a mash of approximately 5% abv.
Premium Genever (Unaged)
The moutwijn mash is distilled 4 times after fermentation to an abv of approximately 85% before transferring to a stainless steel tank for storage. Neutral wheat spirit is used to make the esprit after reducing the abv to approximately 50% with purified water. Juniper, angelica, coriander seed, vanilla, liquorice, and lavender are added and left to macerate for approximately a week. This is then distilled to 75% abv. The final Genever is a blend of 10% moutwijn, esprit, water and neutral spirit reduced to 35% abv.
Nose: Moderately malty with hints of acetone on a nutty, waxy background spiked with a hint of lime peel.
Neat: Creamer than it is malty. The 35% abv is noticeable at first on account of the lighter mouthfeel which builds as an oiliness enters mid-palate. Juniper is restrained and aside from the vanilla, it is not until the slightly spicy finish that the botanicals assert dominance over the moutwijn. This spiciness is well received, and adds bite to a spirit that might head too far down the sweet avenue with both moutwijn and vanilla contributing.
Mixing: Whereas many Genevers are big on the malt and so stand up to the rigours of boldly-flavoured ingredients when mixed, this Genever needs an altogether more delicate treatment. The classic Genever Martinez for example is satisfactory, but you could be forgiven for thinking that it were made with a quality vodka such is the delicacy of the Genever contribution. Vermouth is a tricky beast however, and a more modern interpretation of this classic, which put the spirit in first place from a volume perspective is an improvement. Lightness of touch is not necessarily a bad thing however, and this spirit works well with tonic, giving a sweeter and more refreshing offering that is perhaps suited to sumer quaffing. It is even better however in a Collins, there being no quinine to clash with the signature Genever notes that some find offensive. The floral notes of an Aviation offer another angle that benefits this Genever’s ability to deliver subtlety and crispness. Don’t be tempted by the awesomely-named Alamagoozlam cocktail however; this drink can be extraordinary, but the overproof rum and intensely herbal Chartreuse dominate this poor spirit. The inclusion of citrus really does help things however, both with regards to cutting through the sweeter character and in elevating the botanicals which need teasing out. Whether it be a Holland House, or the signature Gin Daisy, the results are testament to the broad appeal of this Genever.
Signature Cocktail – Gin Daisy
45ml Boompjes Premium genever, 15ml Grand Marnier Rouge, 20ml Lemon Juice, 10ml Sugar Syrup, Splash Soda Water
Shake ingredients except soda with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Top with soda and garnish with an orange twist.
Old Dutch Genever (Barrel Aged)
The same mash bill is used as for the young Genever but it is distilled only three times before being aged for 3 years in ex-Jack Daniels barrels. The esprit contains only juniper and fresh seville arrange peels. No sugars or caramel are added after blending.
Nose: A noticeably woody entrance gives way to a creaminess with a little more of the acetone noted in the unaged version. The malty notes are toned down and there is but the merest whisper of chocolate orange.
Neat: More of the creamy notes first up, followed by a surprising but enjoyable lemon character which in turn is followed by light juniper. More rounded and deeper in flavour than the unaged spirit, and the stronger abv is too noticeable in both the mouthfeel and flavour intensity. The relatively short finish heads back to the wood for some delicate spicing.
Mixing: The deeper flavours and higher abv of this aged version, together with the higher proportion of malt wine means that of the two, it is the Old Dutch that lends itself to more flavoursome cocktails. The restrained wood influence is a strength too in many drinks, offering character, but little by way of tannins. this means it remains a successful partner with tonic (quite unexpectedly for a Genever), where it delivers a more fruity and slightly sweet-oak depth. In a Genever Martinez too, the oak blends well with the vermouth, bringing out the Bourbon flavours it has picked up whilst also offering a smooth creamy, malty undertone. By contrast, crisper cocktails such as the Aviation are inferior to the unaged version, wood and flowers not being a match made in heaven. The signature Alamagoozlam is however a very fine cocktail full to bursting of herbal, malty, rummy, and fruity goodness. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is a fine way to show that Genever very much isn’t just an old fashioned form of gin. Speaking of which, this is a most enjoyable spirit to drink in an Old Fashioned, particularly when some citrus bitters are used in the mix.
Signature Cocktail – Alamagoozlam
30ml Old Dutch Genever, 20ml Yellow Chartreuse, 20ml Overporoof Rum, 8ml Grand Marnier, 20ml Sugar Syrup, 1/4 Egg White, 30ml Mineral Water, Dash Angostura Bitters
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Boompjes Genever is a solid ambassador for the category, offering both versatility and an approachability for those moving onto this spirit from gin. The additional depth offered from the aged version is of great benefit, but both are more than worthy of a look.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.